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FUTURE WATCH
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Future Watch: Ryan Martindale

Oilers prospect embraces opportunity with ECHL's Stockton Thunder

Thursday, 26.01.2012 / 3:15 PM / Future Watch
By Ryan Dittrick  - edmontonoilers.com
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Future Watch: Ryan Martindale
Ryan Martindale skates in a pre-season game vs. Calgary on Sep. 24, 2011 at Rexall Place (Photo by Getty Images).
If you'd asked Ryan Martindale a season ago where he wanted to be in 2012, the realistic and hardly myopic response would have been where he is now, honing his craft as a gritty, offensively-gifted pivot with the ECHL's Stockton Thunder.

It's about opportunity, not location; and although the end-goal, as the 20-year-old understands, is to patrol the Edmonton Oilers' game night roster, he's got to crack another minor-league pillar en route. Devan Dubnyk did the same, and now his career has landed in the enviable role as a sophomore in the National Hockey League.

"It's been very good," Martindale said, recapping a rookie campaign in which he's gathered 14 points in 30 games to this point. "Stockton is a great place to play. I'm getting so much ice time down here, so I'm able to work on playing in those situations where I might not be able to if I'm thrown in at a higher level."

Last season, Martindale notched 34 goals and 83 points in 65 games with the OHL's Ottawa 67s. Having established such remarkable success since his Jr. career began in 2007-08, the progression to the journey's next stop at the pro level has came naturally.

"It's been a good transition," he said. "The pro game is more mature than the Jr. level is, so it's definitely been an adjustment coming in. But through the practice and experience in the games, I've become more and more comfortable in the league, and I feel as though I can really make an impact here."

With 4,255 kilometers between his home in Oshawa and the rink in Nor-Cal, the road to Stockton has been paved with a guided development plan. The 6'3", 207-pounder was a big-body presence with a lumbering stride, but he's improved leaps and bounds in a calendar year and especially over the summer, impressing the masses at various Oilers camps this past September.

"It's always getting better and it's something that I don't want to stop working on," Martindale said, noting the value in his skating. "I want to keep improving and keep building on my skills as I go. The Oilers have helped me out a lot. (Skating and Skills Coach) Steve Serdachny has talked to me and spent some time with me, which has really helped out. I'm trying to take what he's taught me and incorporate it into my game so I can continue to improve all around.

"[The Oilers] are always in close contact, and they're always there to lend a helping hand and help out wherever and whenever I've needed it," he added. "It's pretty neat, because it helps me and other players in the organization grow and get better when you're given such constant and detailed advice."

It's been a similar response to the 67s' work a while back. Having been born with a natural and all-encompassing up-ice arsenal, it was Martindale's defensive game that needed attention. Just like the progression in work ethic and physical development, that too has undergone a drastic improvement since his third round selection in 2010.

"Ottawa gave me so much help and taught me a lot about the importance of defence," he said. Coming into [the ECHL], it's something that everyone stresses; you know, it's the most important part of the game, so I took that knowledge and tried to build upon it and improve some more, incorporating it as best I could.

"They've been really good and I've been able to pick up even more," Martindale added about the Oilers camps he's attended. "It's eye-opening to see the pros work on their game and to witness just how much work is required to make the dream happen. I've gone in and been like a sponge, soaking up all the information I could to learn more and improve my game.

"It's good to get out and play against that competition, too, in the pre-season games. It's showed me what it takes to play at that level and what it will take to get there on a full-time basis."

While Martindale has also been given a quick, two-game audition with the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons this season, he's committed to bringing the most to the club in Stockton, setting goals beyond a measure of tallies, assists, points and plus-minus.

"I do set numbers, but I try not to focus too much on them," he explained. "I just try to go out with the attitude to get better every practice and every game, to build overall as a player. I'm happy with what I've been able to accomplish so far, but that doesn't mean I need to be satisfied. I see so much more potential in myself, so I'm always striving to reach that next level."

In time and with the attitude he's brought to the Thunder, a once lofty childhood dream of making it big seems closer than ever.

-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick


Forwards


Name age GP G A P +/- PIM team
Cameron Abney   20 9  0 0 0  0 24 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Mark Arcobello   23 41  6 17 23 +12 14 Oklahoma City Barons (AHL)
Alexander Bumagin   24 33  3 7 10   -4 8 Novokuznetsk Metallurg
Philippe Cornet   21 36 20 5 25    3 13 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Drew Czerwonka   19 32 11 15 26 +5 30 Kootenay ice (WHL)
Travis Ewanyk   18 - - - - - - edmonton oil kings (WHL)
Josh Green   34 19 7 10 17 +7 21 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Curtis Hamilton   20 34 4 5 9   +1 6 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Teemu Hartikainen   21 29 9 10 19   -3 10 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Tanner House   25 40 4 8 12  +9 19 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Kellen Jones   21 22 6 13 19  0 33 quinnipiac university
Ryan Keller   27 41 14 19 33 +16 22 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Milan Kytnar   22 14 5 3 8   4 12 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Ryan Martindale   20 30 5 9 14 -11 10 stockton thunder (ECHL)
Linus Omark   24 7 1 6 7 +2 4 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Ryan O'Marra   24 34 7 9 16 +11 52 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Kristians Pelss   19 43 16 15 31 +24 56 edmonton oil kings (WHL)
Tyler Pitlick   19 34 4 5 9 -7 22 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Toni Rajala   20 38 13 9 22 -5 14 ilves tampere (sm-liiga)
Liam Reddox   25 40 9 13 22 -8 20 vaxjo hc (SEL)
Tobias Rieder   18 38 26 20 46 +21 14 kitchener rangers (OHL)
Hunter Tremblay   25 42  8 10 18  +7 29 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Antti Tyrvainen   22 23 2 5 7 +5 19 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Chris VandeVelde   24 42 4 9 13 -3 18 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Defencemen
Name age GP G A P +/- PIM team
Kyle Bigos   22 21 3 9 12   0 72 merrimack college
Jeremie Blain   19 11 3 10 13 +9 14 Victoriaville tigers (QMjhl)
Taylor Chorney   19 25 3 8 11   4 17 OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS (AHL)
Brandon Davidson   20 49 9 27 36 +21 58 regina pats (wHL)
Martin Gernat   18 37 8 25 33 +24 32 edmonton oil kings (WHL)
Oscar Klefbom   18 22 0 0 0   0 2 farjestads bk karlstad (SEL)
Martin Marincin   19 6 2 3 5   4 2 regina pats (WHL)
Johan Motin   22 21 0 1 1   1 14 Timra ik (seL)
David Musil   18 38 1 15 16 +9 76 vancouver giants (WHL)
Jeff Petry   23 2 0 1 1 +1 2 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Alex Plante   22 28 1 10 11 +13 63 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Dillon Simpson   18 25 0 12 12   0 4 u. of north dakota
Colten Teubert   21 18 2 4 6 +7 33 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Goalies
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
Tyler Bunz   19 44 28 12 4 2.56 .921 medicine hat tigers (WHL)
Yann Danis   30 27 17 8 1 2.12 .921 oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Samu Perhonen   18 9 - - - 3.79 .889 Jyp ht jyvaskyla (sm-liiga)
Olivier Roy   20 25 8 13 4 2.68 .917 stockton thunder (echl)
Frans Tuohimaa   20 17 6 5 5 2.59 .900 jokerit helsinki (sm-liiga)
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